Updated: January 2018
So you want to enter the world of streaming, podcasting, or both. You’ve already got a burly PC that can handle this level of action, but now you need a way to record your buttery voice. Most people’s first instinct is to just save money and use the microphone attached to their headset, but that’s a newb mistake. Those microphones are not the best quality, usually, and as you know from listening to things online, poor audio quality is an instant tab-closer. Plus, that microphone might be fine for recording your voice, but what if you want to interview somebody, or record several people gathered around a table? To do that, and to sound professional just in a general sense, you’re going to need a quality microphone.
Of course, the world of high-end audio is a rabbit hole of sorts that can have you purchasing all kinds of expensive gear in a never-ending quest for the perfect recording, but it doesn’t need to be that way. You can get by just fine with a USB microphone when you’re starting out, and even when you’re well along your way too. If you decide at some point you want more control over the audio portion of your content, you can start adding mixing boards and microphones with XLR input and all that jazz. But you don’t need to start out there. We know this because we reviewed five of the most popular microphones being used today, and also have experience with podcasting and streaming too, and based on our testing we’re able to recommend the best microphone you can use right now.
The Yeti microphone from Blue offers a near perfect combination of performance and price, making it our top pick for anyone getting into the game of streaming and podcasting. At just $127 (street), it’s not that expensive and it includes cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional capture patterns, so it can capture pretty much anything you need it to without breaking the bank. It’s also a USB microphone, so setup is super easy, and we also dig the fact that it has gain control and comes in a bunch of nifty colors. For fledgling and even advanced streamers/podcasters, the Yeti does everything you need it to do at the right price, with fantastic performance too.
The Snowball USB microphone from Blue is easily the best way to get into quality audio recording without spending more than $60. This little guy includes a desktop stand that’s height adjustable, so you can plug it in, plop it down, and start recording right away. It only offers omnidirectional or cardioid capture patterns, so it’s not as flexible as a more expensive mic, but it’s perfect for capturing your voice or that of a few of your cohorts huddled around it. It’s available in four colors and can even be mounted to a traditional mic stand if you want to get a bit fancy.
The Audio Technica AT2020 is a cardioid microphone that requires an XLR cable, so it’s not plug-and-play like a USB mic. You’ll need to plug it into a mixing board, and also buy the aforementioned cable, so it’s more of a pro setup than the mics above, but if you’re looking to something more advanced the AT2020 is a great way to get started. It’s not the best for streaming but if you’re jam is podcasting we highly recommend it as long as you’re willing to fork over some bucks for all the extra gear it requires.
Razer’s Seiren Elite is a very good USB microphone, and it will look right at home alongside your BlackWidow keyboard and DeathAdder mouse. It sports independent controls for both volume and gain, and has four capture patterns too so it’s perfect for almost any recording situation you can think of. It even includes a nifty LCD so you can see which pattern is selected at a glance, and it can sit on your desk or if you want to get fancy Razer offers a shock mount and pop filter too.SOURCE: IGN.com